ANCHORAGE - The avalanches and storms that swept through Southcentral Alaska recently cost an estimated $16 million in property damage and cleanup, according to Gov. Tony Knowles.
Of the $16 million, $2.6 million was damage to personal property, including five homes hit in a Jan. 26 slide that struck Cordova, at the east end of Prince William Sound. About $560,000 covered business losses and the rest was the cost of clearing roads and repairing power and telephone lines and other infrastructure.
``It's been a difficult time for Alaskans,'' Knowles said Monday, as he thanked state employees for their work during the crisis. ``But Alaskans came through in pretty good shape.''
Knowles also asked for a moment of silence for Alaska Railroad heavy-equipment operator Kerry Brookman, 53, who was killed while helping state highway workers clear the Seward Highway, which connects Anchorage to the rest of the Kenai Peninsula, and the railroad tracks alongside the road.
Southcentral was hit with a series of storms that began Dec. 21, unleashing at least 33 avalanches. The slides, combined with rain, hurricane-force winds, record snowfall, ice storms and flooding, prompted the governor to declare a disaster emergency Feb. 3.
Knowles honored more than a dozen individuals or crews for clearing roads, coordinating emergency efforts, repairing remote communication sites, delivering medical supplies, airlifting generators and rescuing motorists stranded by multiple slides.
He thanked three Alaska State Troopers for assisting Girdwood residents when the small resort town southeast of Anchorage was isolated by slides. One trooper gave away a personal cache of firewood. Knowles also thanked guards at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward who worked extra days when other workers couldn't get to the prison.